我跟李昆霖老師的關係,既是師生也是朋友。一九九九年,那時台南的北園街那裡成立一個藝術街。我媽媽她長期住在北園街,因為我母親年紀越來越大,所以我每個星期六都會從新化回去那裏看我媽媽。當時我會去藝術街那裡逛,逛的當中剛好看到李昆霖老師在教學生,我覺得他教的方式很靈活,沒有固定方式,每個學生在畫方法都不一樣,用的材料也不一樣。所以我看完問李老師說:「學生來這裡學畫圖年齡有沒有限制?」他說:「沒有啊,如果要來這裡畫圖的,從三歲到一百歲都可以。」我聽了很高興,因為那時我的年齡已經約四十六歲了,算說年紀比較大了。所以聽到這樣,那這樣我下禮拜馬上來,那是我們初次認識的一個很好的機緣。

 

        每個星期六我都帶我的畫具,因為基本上我是畫油畫,所以我帶油彩跟筆跟一些洗筆油去那裡學習油畫。不過呢差不多兩次三次後,我放畫具的袋子就多放一樣東西,就是放啤酒。然後我們上課,大概九點半就結束,結束後我們就在樓上喝酒,越喝越晚。喝到快十一、十二點,喝到被李昆霖的太太抗議,說為什麼教畫教到晚上十二點,這也是一件很趣味的事情。在那久了,後來又加一個人進來,就是黃宏德。所以後來下課後我們經常就是三個人,在那裡喝酒喝到十二點,這是一個很快樂的回憶。

 

        他有很重要的觀念,譬如說「我們畫圖不要為了表現技術來規劃你要畫什麼東西,而是了解你要畫的東西,再來追求技術」,我想這是很重要的觀念。另外,對於畫圖,他常強調說:「不管怎麼你怎麼畫,用什麼方式,要有厚度。你要做出厚度,不要一張紙薄薄的、沒有厚度。」

 

        基本上他不像很多教畫畫的人,都會帶小孩去比賽,去搶好的成績,然後去宣傳,所以他的學生一直沒有很多,我印像都大約在四五個六七個人之間。但是他那裡租金,我記得一個月要1萬元吧,再加上水電費,其實後來我看他有點像在做白工。有時學生剛好剩下五六位時,其實是不夠工的。而且離他家遠,所以後來他就將那裏結束掉,就搬到太子廟他的畫室這裡,繼續教畫。

李昆霖的「雞舍」工作室內部

    我也從那邊跟過來這邊。雞舍是李昆霖老師一手製造出來的,因為原本零零落落,但是在他藝術家很精準很藝術性地將它調整後,整個雞舍的氣氛都不同了。尤其雞舍前面的一個小古井跟它前面的鐵門跟圍牆,他都有把它整理過,連磚頭都他自己疊起來,屋頂也是他自己做的。牆壁他都塗他需要的顏色,又放很多桌子椅子在裡面,天花板他也都整理過。因為李昆霖木作的功夫非常好,他曾說他的第一志願是要做木匠,第二志願才是要做畫家。所以整個雞舍給我們感覺,就是說不僅是畫室,而且也是一個很野性,很自然自在的聯誼空間。

 

        因為他的空間很野性,李昆霖的老師個性也很open,就是很隨和。什麼題材他都可以跟你談,大家說得天南地北,不一定說繪畫,有時候說到社會、政治、家庭、愛情,他都能夠談。而且他是一個很好的聽者,他會靜靜的說,再回答你。我們應該是每次的聚會都要有酒放在桌上,因為我們大部分的人都愛喝兩杯,不過大家仍然會節制,不會喝得很嚴重。喝酒時還會放音樂,放音樂大部分要放什麼音樂,若李昆霖自己在畫圖時,會放他喜歡聽的。若黃宏德在場,要放什麼音樂是黃宏德在指揮的。黃宏德指定的音樂都較奇怪,很奇怪,但是聽起來很有趣。現在雞舍已經沒有在開了,因為他人不在了,但是我們大家都很懷念那段時間,都非常非常懷念。

 

        我們組畫會,起始就太子畫會,開始一直變化變化,其實其中最主要的人,也是李昆霖、我跟候世婷、黃宏德四個人。然後也都會邀請其他人來加入,其實多數也是李昆霖的同學跟他的朋友,在每一次的展覽時都會跑出不一樣的人。

 

        有一天李昆霖開始養貓,我去的時候時說:「怎麼有這麼可愛的貓,在那裡繞來繞去,接著就說要跟給他取名字。我們一起在那裡,李昆霖啊黃宏德,我們一起在那裡給牠取名字。後來,取一取就出現QQ的名稱,後來就叫他QQ。QQ就是這樣繞來繞去,就撒嬌嘛。李昆霖常說:「我在畫畫時,牠就在那裏抓壁虎,扭來扭去,故意在旁邊繞來繞去。黃宏德每次去都很愛跟他玩,不過他算比較暴力,每次喝酒後,就把牠從後腳抓起來,像太空飛船一樣繞圈圈。哦很恐怖,李昆霖就把他拉下來。但是那也一次而已,黃宏德後來就沒有這樣了。但是後來聽說這樣沒多久,被外面的野狗咬死了,很可憐,後來李昆霖說得眼淚直流。

雞舍旁邊的「米窟」(黃宏德題字,王永成攝)

        雞舍旁邊有一個巷子,那個巷子原本蚊子很多,旁邊靠近磚窯廠。李昆霖把它整理一下,結果那個空間看起來就很趣味,取了一個名字叫做「米窟」。一窟長落落,像個隧道,前面看下去,後面一縫隙光線照進來,所以一次排了十二場的展覽。喔那時包括我、李昆霖、黃宏德、林煌迪、李錦明、黃步青…就一直排排,排了十二場。而且開始的第一、兩場還登廣告,刊登在藝術家雜誌。「米粉俱樂部」展覽展三、四次後,漸漸冷淡後,接著開始想,接下來還要改什麼名稱。有一次在那邊喝酒的時候,就一直想,想著的時候剛好呵呵,有人拿顆洋蔥來。就在那裏切那顆洋蔥,想說切洋蔥喔,切洋蔥比較暴力,用一個暴力的名稱,叫做「洋蔥幫」。

 

    「洋蔥幫」是個幫派,但是討論了不僅是幫派,洋蔥又有另外一個意義:「畫畫就是像在剝洋蔥這樣嘛,以前畫家大家畫得很哀傷,有時圖賣不出去,大家在那裏吐苦水,一直剝,剝得一直噴眼淚,也是要繼續剝、繼續畫。但是有時想想,剝到最後不是中間空空的嗎?」就這樣成一個很有意思的畫會名稱,就正式叫做「洋蔥幫」。

 

 

        洋蔥幫其實展覽一次而已,就是在林煌迪的油漆工程行那裏展覽。但是在那裡展覽,其實呢又有一個插曲,就是說洋蔥幫想要去台北華山藝術中心參加展覽,那時,我記得策展人是黃海鳴。黃宏德有一天半夜十二點多給他打電話,把黃海鳴叫起來,說我們要參加。黃海鳴說好啊,你們資料送來讓我看看。這個黃宏得很天才,送資料不是應該將每個人的資料、展歷、作品都用好嗎?結果黃宏德是怎樣呢?用他的毛筆字喔,寫得沒有人看得懂,用一張白紙塗寫,塗寫不知道幾句,封面寫得歪七扭八。因為喝酒茫茫,說郵票貼了就把它寄出去。寄去過三天就又打電話,問說我們那個可以嗎?我說跟他說,你說什麼,你的資料裡面又沒寫什麼!哈哈哈然後那就算了,破局了。

洋蔥幫 VS 文賢油漆工程行 - 展覽卡

        正式展覽是在林煌迪那裡,那次倒是很正經,處理一些作品,在那裡展覽感覺也不錯。在那個那個展覽卡,上面就是一顆洋蔥切成兩半,很有意思。但是後來就消失了。就是說展覽完就解散這樣。所以我們幾乎是一個,在合作上大家都配合的很好的團體。雖然名稱一直改,其實整個核心仍然都沒有變。我常常在想可惜啊,黃宏德也常講李昆霖不在就差不多散了。因為這個主任秘書不在,發號司令的人沒有人可以指揮,工作做不起來,所以這個團體就沒有繼續下去了。

李昆霖個展《吸納與釋放》,2002 年於豆皮

        李昆霖與黃宏德原本互動沒有那麼密切,他們兩個開始很密切是從一次的因緣開始,大概是在二〇〇二年,李昆霖在高雄豆皮藝文中心舉辦一次個覽,叫做《吸納與釋放》。那一次的構想就是有裝置,還有一個空間。那個空間裡面有桌子,那桌子他原來的預定是叫他的女兒小米豆去那裡畫,他準備很多紙,要給小米豆畫。我遇到黃宏德,我說要來看李昆霖的展覽,黃宏德說我也要去,後來我就開車載他去。去了黃宏德看一堆紙在桌上,說噢這喔,這我來處理就好,就一疊紙在那裡一直一直畫,畫了都貼牆上。結果他的釋放都被黃宏德釋放了,小米豆好像沒有畫半張。但是那次後,他們兩個就非常…就像說兩個…其實他們兩個個性是互補,一個豪放,一個比較冷靜,但基本上都是很自然很坦白的人,所以兩個人相處的很好。雖然兩個畫風不太一樣,但都互相很欣賞。從那次以後兩個人幾乎喔,畫會沒開在外面也在一起,兩人變很密切。

        有一個那個美術比賽,小孩的美術比賽,叫他當裁判。通常裁判大概是三四位、四五位,結果李昆霖坐下,一看喔怎麼會有十幾張都畫一樣的,就是用色、形式、筆畫都一樣,這一定同一個老師教的。怎麼教小孩教成這樣?十幾張都一樣!就說主張把這幾十張先收起來,這幾十張都不能入選,大家眼睛都張大眼睛、嘴開開。因為裁判中有可能說,這十幾張有我的學生。有時大家也知道,大家互通有無,這次給我的學生前幾名,下次給你的學生前幾名,大家都有學生收嘛生意好嘛。但是李昆霖很堅持,就是,那十幾張都收起來,那個不能入選。但是話說回來,下次就不敢叫他當裁判,這件事情我印像很深。

李昆霖於台南火車站前的裝置藝術作品

        李昆霖對藝術精神藝術理念的堅持又有另一件很有,台南市也算…嗯藝術界很轟動。有一次文化局有一個聖誕節過年期間的裝置藝術,委託很多藝術家,一個人負責一個地方,有的人在民生綠園,有的人在公園、其他海邊。李昆霖所負責的是火車站,火車站是台南市的指標地方。他的作品居然是將火車站前面,那個抱橄欖球的雕像把他包起來。那個雕像大家都說臉很像蘇南成,事實上,我看也像蘇南成。他用淺綠色寬布,從下面一直包一直包上來,當然包起來是一節一節,像一塊一塊的石頭疊起來做立體感,包起來後,最後在最上面插一顆星。噢開始展覽,不得了,投書的電話都打到文化局去,文化局撐不住就來說:「你這樣行不通,要改一改,用這樣子在火車站前會被罵慘。」李昆霖說:「我為什麼要改,那是我的作品。」結果盧到後來沒辦法,就是折中,他的那個包的那些布都維持,就那顆星取下來,來解決這件事情。但是那件事情後,文化局要給他分配裝置公共藝術的部分都會怕怕的,這也是他堅持原則的一個很特殊的一個故事。

 

        另外一件是我們生活上的,就是說,我們有時去外面喝酒,因為李昆霖長得最英俊又高,那個小姐絕對直接就坐在他旁邊。不過很有趣,李昆霖都坐挺挺,眼睛看前面,他就自已喝酒不理會她們,就全無趣味,結果那些小姐就很無趣跑掉了。那是他的個性使然,也是說他的原則一直都保持得很清楚。

飛魚飛過泥濘的疆域 (二)

壓克力彩. 畫布, 145X243cm, 2002

        其實在我們認識的畫家作家裡面,很多人都強調說要保持風格,保持風格其實是很重要的,但是也是有一個缺點,有人大概三十年、四十年,甚至一輩子中,全都畫同樣的東西。畫的東西、畫的圖,顏色啦、形狀啦,甚至題材,數十年如一日,結果會感覺到看久了會很沒趣。看一張感覺不錯,多了感覺到一張跟一百張都一樣。但是李昆霖老師剛好相反,他幾乎每一段時間畫出來一批新的東西,跟上一批可以說有時變化很大。當然,他用的材料如果平面的來說,都壓克力彩跟油畫為主。但是他的內容一批一批都不一樣。都有一個名稱譬如說他有時熊熊出現一個《銘印》系列,整個圖都削直的,像刻印章一樣。有時出現《平行飛行的雲朵》都壓克力彩,半畫半淋雲飛來飛去,有時畫的圖又表現出他的素描技術,雕刻的一坨一坨整整齊齊。若到他過世之前這一批又做了大變化,那個獨腳仙系列——《獨腳仙行旅圖》,都變化很大。所以表示他的創作思考,一直在思考不同的問題,人生、生命的問題,他使用不同的表現技巧來畫出他所思考的嘛,這剛好符合他剛所主張的。就是說,為了他要畫什麼題材、要表現什麼,去訴求這種技術。

質疑, 油彩. 畫布, 72.5X91cm, 2007

(獨腳仙系列畫作)

        不過說回來,他雖然不時在變化他畫的風格技術,但是從頭到尾來看,裡面都有共通的地方。這個共通的地方就是,他有他堅持的一種孤獨,他的孤獨都在裡面,而且他的堅持也都在裡面。而且他的手法筆路,其實也都有他的共通點。《獨腳仙》系列雖然是他過世前那幾年畫出來的,但其實那都有脈絡可循,其實他獨腳仙裡面那隻腳,在他很年輕三十幾歲時,就有畫出那樣的素描。一隻腳站在土地上,上面有就是很簡單的形像,等於是他人生中的生命原形。他生命的原形讓我們覺得他是一個很簡單的人,衣食住行都很簡單,因為他集中精神就是要創作,所以生活上的要求很基本很簡單。譬如說,我總看他騎著一部破摩托車,披著一件很舊很舊的夾克,說:「你的衣服這麼舊,都沒有其他衣服嗎?」就是說他個人生活很簡單,這種很簡單的精神表現,表現在他的獨腳仙上面。所以我剛才說他的基本創作精神,是從年輕到中年,整個是貫穿在一起。不管他改變成《銘印》系列,改變成《飛行的雲朵》,改變成什麼,其實他的精神都是一樣。

 

        他的獨腳仙系列在發展也很奧妙,他原本是早期是畫一隻獨腳仙就站在那裡。後來他將獨腳仙走入山水跟我們日常生活的世界。獨腳仙走入的世界,你會感覺到山、水、雲很自然自在,獨腳仙在上面,那個感覺竟感覺不是孤單的,感覺他在裡面很自在很豐富很熱鬧。因為山一顆一顆, 雲一直飛過去。山的部分, 在獨腳仙系列後來,李昆霖的山變成有母性,就是都像乳房。其實乳房不是偏向情色,它是偏向一種大地的反思。反思大地的問題,整個大地是在撫育我們人類動物。以獨腳仙來講,他表示,雖然大自然有這麼豐富的物產可以撫育我們,但是獨腳仙要的其實只是一點點的而已,所以他的獨腳仙只有一隻腳而已。「我哪需要兩隻腳,我一隻腳就可以跳了。我何必要有手呢?我有嘴就可以吃了,有眼睛就可以看了。」就是把人的形體,恢復到最純粹最簡單的狀態,把物慾回復到一種最基本的需求,精神化。李昆霖至始至終以他的生命角度跟思考型態,去發展他藝術的系列,一直是這樣。

 

        我跟李昆霖來往很久了,我們在一起的時間都很長,所以其實我以前畫的圖,很多他都看過。他的圖有些都掛在我的牆上,所以當然看他的圖就非常有感覺。另外就是說,我們如果坐下,大概第一個動作就是開啤酒。所以,其實我現在很少在喝了,但是現在如果看著啤酒開起來,有時就會想起李昆霖老師,因為跟他一起喝感覺很好這樣。另外就是說,我如果去海邊,有時看到漂流木,漂流木很美,馬上我會想:「這種東西若給李昆霖老師動手喔,來結合一下結合一下,這項東西會變成很有藝術性的作品。」所以馬上就會想到李昆霖老師。

 

    李昆霖在畫圖的過程當中,發生了一件很有意思的事情。就是說,有一天他在畫圖畫得非常集中精神的時候,中途要來洗筆,瞬時看到旁邊好像有一綑草繩。仔細看, 喔夭壽, 是一隻眼鏡蛇。眼鏡蛇抬起頭來,像是在看他畫圖,感覺上。李昆霖看到,就緩緩的站起來,看著牠。因為眼鏡蛇如果你沒踩到他就沒事,他就慢慢的把牠趕到一個小的雜物間,用網子把牠圍起來,就放牠走。因為李昆霖一直對大自然很有感情,平時常常撿種子。對大自然的動物也很疼惜,所以對於眼鏡蛇, 他也沒有傷害牠,只是把牠趕到小房間。但是自從那次以後,我們這些畫友朋友若是要走過去, 都會很注意,看那個眼鏡蛇會不會再跑出來。但是一直都沒有再看到。不過到後來發展的就是說,在李昆霖末期的圖,有很多那樣的意象跑出來。就是說就這樣子跳躍起來飛出去飛過去,我覺得這跟眼鏡蛇的意象也很有關係,所以這件事情給我的印象非常的深刻。

 

        有一件事情讓我非常地震動,就是一生中都不能忘記的事情。李昆霖過世以後,家屬安排要來找納骨塔,安排他的靈位要放在哪裡。但是找過很多地方,都擲沒筊。就是說找的地方,在李昆霖靈前擲都擲沒筊,這讓家屬非常的困擾。眼看出葬的時間要到,一直擲沒筊,不知道該怎麼辦。在那兩天前, 他的家屬就打電話給我說:「王先生,你跟李昆霖是很的好朋友,我看你來跟他說一下,來擲筊看看。 不然一直都擲不到筊,這就快要出葬,不知道該怎麼辦。」後來我就先來跟他的家屬商量,家屬就提出了大約七個地方,七個地方擲筊,看能不能擲到一個地方。然後,他的家屬煩惱說七個地方都擲不到筊,這下就慘了,就無法處理了。所以說那你每個位置都擲七次筊,這樣就有四十九次的擲筊機會,一定能擲得到筊。我說好好好,就將這些順序都排下來,我心裡就有個底。隔天一大早, 我就從新化出發,我就先去買一手海尼根。我一到,就將那手海尼根放在李昆霖的靈前。我就拿香拜,我說:「李老師, 我今天提海尼根來跟你喝酒,而且我今天是要跟你商量,你要葬的地方。這件事我跟你說一下,我覺得最適當的地方是名度壽園。因為名度壽園那個地方,第一,離你太子廟這裡很近;第二,名度壽園過去一點就是木架山,木架山通到新化。這個地方我覺得環境也很好,所以很適合,所以我問你這個地方好嗎?你若好,你就應杯。」說完我就擲筊了。結果一次就應杯, 很OK,所以一次就解決了這個問題。大家都感到很意外,我也覺得很意外,這是我一輩子都無法忘記的事情。

My relationship with teacher Lee Kuen-Lin. He was my teacher and also my friend. In 1999, in the North Park Street in Tainan, there was an art street. My mother lived in North Park Street for a long time. Because my mother was getting older, I went there to see her every Saturday. I also visited the art street at that time. Then one day incidentally, I saw Lee Kuen-Lin teaching students there. I thought the way he taught was quite flexible. He didn’t have a fixed way. Each student used a different painting method. The materials they used were also different.

 

So I asked Teacher Lee Kuen-Lin, “Are there any restrictions on the age of students here?” “No.”, he said. “If you want to come here to draw. You can be from 3 to 100 years old.” I was so happy to hear that, because I was already over 40 years old at that time. So my age was a little bit old. So after I heard that, I just started to come for the following week. That was our wonderful experience of meeting each other.

 

Then every Saturday, I came with my painting tools and materials. Because basically I painted oil painting. So I brought some oil paint, pen and turpentine to learn there oil painting. But after two or three times, in the bag of my painting tools appeared one new instrument --- beer. Our class ended at about 9:30. After the class we drank upstairs. The ending time of our drinking became later and later. Turned out to be around 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m. So Lee Kuen-Lin’s wife protested. She said, “Why are you teaching painting until 12 o'clock in the evening?” This was also an interesting thing. And then another person joined us. He was Huang Hong-De. So later we were often 3 people. The drinking time together is a very very happy memory to me.

 

He had some important ideas. For example we can't paint for showing our technique and plan what to paint because of it. “You need to know first what you want to paint”, he said. “Then think about the technique.” I think it is a very important concept. In addition, about painting he often get stressed that...no matter how you paint, with what kind of methods it needs to have a thickness. You need to make the thickness not just a piece of thin paper. Paper had no thickness.

 

Basically Lee Kuen-Lin was not like many other teachers who took children to competitions to get good grades and then disseminate them. So he did not have many students. In my memory, around 4 up to 7 people. But the rent there. I remember it was NT10,000 a month plus water and electricity fees. So actually he didn't make any money. Sometimes when there were only 5 or 6 students, his wage was actually not enough. This was also far away from his home. So later on he no longer held his painting classes in there. He moved into his new studio, which was a chicken house before and continued to teach drawing.

 

I also came with him over here from the art street. Chicken house studio was totally made by Lee Kuen-Lin. It was quite desolated originally. But as an artist, he adjusted it precisely and artistically. Then the atmosphere of the whole chicken house was different. Especially the small ancient wall in front of the chicken house. The iron gate and the fence in front of it.

 

His place was really wild. Lee Kuen-Lin’s personality was also quite open and easygoing. He could talk about any topic with you. We talked as much as we wanted. Not necessarily talking about painting. We talked about society, politics, family and love. He was a really good listener. He spoke slowly and answered you. Every time we met, there should be beers on the table, because most of us loved to drink. But we would still control ourselves and wouldn’t drink too much. There was music playing while we were drinking.

About the music: When Lee Kuen-Lin drew alone, he played the music he like to listen. If Huang Hong-De was there, he was the person to choose the music. And the songs Huang Hong-De chose were quite weird. But they were quite interesting. At the present moment, chicken house studio is no longer open because Lee Kuen-Lin is not there. But all of us miss that time a lot. We really cherish it.

 

The name of our painting group. At the beginning it was “Prince Painting Group”. And then it kept changing. Actually the most important members were Lee Kuen-Lin, Huang Hong-De, Hou, Shi-Ting and me. We invited other artists to join us at different times. In fact, most of them are also Lee Kuen-Lin’s classmates and friends of him. Different people joined us in different exhibitions.

 

One day, Lee Kuen-Lin started to raise cats. When I saw it, I said: “Why do you have such a cute cat!” It kept wandering around there. We wanted to give it a name. We, Lee Kuen-Lin, Huang Hong-De and I, named the cat together. And then suddenly the name “QQ” appeared. So we called it “QQ”. QQ often walked around him to get attention. Sometimes when Lee Kuen-Lin was painting, QQ was grabbing geckos there and deliberately wandering around. Huang Hong-De loved to play with QQ but he was more violent. After he drank he took QQ up from the back foot and looped it like a spaceship. It was quite terrible, so Lee Kuen-Lin pull him down. But it happened only one time. Never again in the future. But later soon… QQ was killed by wild dogs outside. It was very tragic. Lee Kuen-Lin’s tears kept falling down when talking about this.

 

There was an alley next to the chicken house studio. The alley had many mosquitoes originally and next to it was a brick kiln factory. So Lee Kuen-Lin sorted the alley. Then the place looked quite more interesting. The name of this alley is Rice Cave. It was so long, it looked like a tunnel. And looking at it from ahead, there was a beam of light that shined in from behind.

So we arranged twelve exhibitions. At that time, included Lee Kuen-Lin, Huang Hong-De, Lin Huang-Di, Li Jin-Ming, Huang Bu-Qing, me and many other artists. So we lined all the people up and arranged twelve exhibitions. We even bought advertisements for the first and second exhibitions in the Artist’s Magazine. But after the fourth exhibition of our art group “Rice Noodle Club” everyone started to cool down gradually. We started thinking about changing the group name. What should be our next group name? Once we drank and kept thinking about the new name. When we were thinking about it, someone came in with an onion and started cutting the onion there. So we started thinking about the notion of “cutting an onion” Cutting onions is more violent. So we chose this violent name “Onion Faction”.

 

“Onion Faction” is a faction. But it was not only a “faction”. Onion has another meaning here:

 

Painting is like peeling onions. Artists were quite sorrowful. Sometimes no one bought our paintings, so everyone talked about this sad situation together. Our tears blew while we were peeling. But we still continued to peel, continued to paint. And we found out that… onions were empty in the center and this was quite interesting. So our new name officially changed to “Onion Faction”. “Onion Faction” actually only kept for one group exhibition. It was in Lin Huang-Di’s Paint House Gallery & Studio.

 

However before the exhibition started, there is another story. That is to say, “Onion Faction” wanted to participate in the exhibition in Huashan 1914 Creative Park. And I remember that the curator was Huang Hai-Ming. One night at about 12 o'clock, Huang Hong-De called Huang Hai-Ming. I waked him up and told him that we wanted to participate. Huang Hai-Ming said, “Ok! Just send me your datum to take a look”. Huang Hong-De was a genius. He did not print all the people’s information, exhibition history or works. What did Huang Hong-De do? He wrote a calligraphy, which no one could understand. Just wrote some sentences in a piece of paper. The cover looked quite chaotic because Huang Hong-De was drinking alcohol at that time. He just posted a stamp then sent it out. After three days, he called Huang Hai-Ming again and asked if our datum was ok? I told Huang Hong-De, “What are you talking about? You didn’t write anything inside” So the plan did not succeed.

 

The official exhibition was at Lin Huang-Di’s place. That time it was very serious. It was also really nice to hold the exhibition there. The exhibition card was also an onion, which was cut into half. That was interesting... but it disappeared later. I mean the group “Onion Faction” dissolved after the exhibition. So we were almost like... everyone works quite well in cooperation. Although the name was changed again and again, the entire core didn’t change. I often think that this was quite a pity. Huang Hong-De also said that we were scattered after Lee Kuen-Lin left. Because the secretary-general is not here. The commander cannot give orders to anyone. So things cannot work out. The group didn’t continue.

 

Lee Kuen-Lin and Huang Hong-De were not so close at the beginning. They started to be really close since 2002. Lee Kuen-Lin held a solo exhibition at Dog Pig Art Café called “Absorbing and Releasing”. The idea of that at the time... he just has a device hemp and a space. There was a table in that space. His original plan was letting his daughter, Mido, paint there. So he prepared lots of paper to let Mido paint. Before the exhibition began I met Huang Hong-De and told him I was going to see Lee Kuen-Lin’s exhibition. Huang Hong-De said that he wanted to go there too. So I drove him to there, we went together. In the exhibition, Huang Hong-De saw a pile of paper on the table and said he could handle it. He kept painting and painting and put them on the wall. So in the end, his “Releasing” was released by Huang Hong-De. Mido didn’t paint so much. But after that time the two of them became very... Actually, they are complementary. One was bolder and one was calmer. But basically, they were very natural and frank people. So they got along pretty well. Although their painting styles were different, they admired each other. After that day, they were almost always together. Even though there was no group meeting. Anyway, they became quite close.

 

There was an art competition, a children's art competition. They asked him to be a judge. There were probably 3 to 5 judges. Then Lee Kuen-Lin sat down and saw that there were a dozen painting that looked almost the same. Their color and brushwork were the same. They have to be taught by the same teacher. How did the teacher teach children? A dozen paintings looked the same. So he advocated taking these dozen paintings out. These paintings cannot be selected.

 

Everyone opened their big eyes and mouth. (They were quite surprised.) Because these dozen were possible the judges’ students. Everyone knows that sometimes judges help each other. This time my students win and next time your students win. Then everyone has students and good business. But Lee Kuen-Lin was quite insistent to take these dozen paintings out and that they cannot be selected. But having said that people dared not to ask him to be a judge next time. This impressed me a lot.

 

About Lee Kuen-Lin's insistence on the artistic spirit and concept. There was another story. This was quite sensational in the Tainan art world. Once the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Tainan City Government invited him to an installation art festival during the Christmas and Chinese New Year.

They commissioned many artists. One person was responsible for one place. Some people are in the Min Sheng Green Park. Some people in the parks and seaside. Lee Kuen-Lin was responsible for the Tainan train station. It is one of the indicator places of Tainan City. But his work was actually packaging the statue in front of the train station, the one holding a football. Everyone said that the face of this statue looked like Su Nan-Cheng. In fact, I also though that it looked like Su Nan-Cheng. He used light green wide cloth packaging the statue from the bottom to the top. After packaging, it looked like many bulks. It looked like stacking many pieces of stone in a three-dimensional way. After wrapping up, he inserted a star at the top.

 

Then the exhibition started. Many people called the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Bureau can't hold it up so they told Lee Kuen-Lin to change his installation artwork or many people would curse it. Lee Kuen-Lin thought, “Why should I change it?” “That is my artwork.” So at the end both of them made a concession. Lee Kuen-Lin didn’t change anything on the light green wide cloth. Just took the star down to solve this problem. But after that time, the Bureau of Cultural Affairs started to be afraid of allocating public installation art to him. This was also a special story about his insisting principles.

 

The other one is... Because Lee Kuen-Lin was the most handsome and the tallest, sometimes when we went out to drink some ladies would just sit directly beside him. Well… it was quite interesting because Lee Kuen-Lin just sat up straight and looked ahead. He just drank and ignored them, totally uninterested. As a result, the ladies felt very bored and ran away. That was his personality. It was to say that his principles were always kept very clear.

 

In fact, many painters and writers we know stressed that they wanted to maintain their style. Keeping style is very important, but there is also a disadvantage. Some people spend 30 years or 40 years or even their lifetime drawing the same thing. The painting they draw, color, shape and even the theme, decades like a day.  Then I feel it’s very boring to watch them for a long time. It’s good to see one. But when it’s more, you would feel one hundred pieces are the same as one. However, Lee Kuen-Lin is just the opposite. He created a new painting style almost every period of time. Sometimes it would change a lot compared with the last period. Of course, the material he used mainly acrylic color and oil painting when painting on a plane. But the contents were different in batches.

 

Each series of his works had a name. For example, in the series “Imprint”, all the paintings are quite straight, like stamps. Once the series “Parallel Flying Clouds” appeared. There were acrylic color... half-painted, half-drench and clouds flying around. Sometimes the painting showed his sketching technique. They were carved one by one, quite nearly. He did a big change on the last series before he passed away. With the “The One-Legged Deva” series there was a large change in it. So, this expresses his creative thinking.

 

He always thought about different issues. He thought about the problems of life. He appealed to a different way of expression to draw what he thought. This just fitted what he advocated. That is to say, according to the theme he wanted to paint and express, then used this technology. But having said that... Although he kept changing his painting style and technique, there was a common thing in his artwork from start to finish.

 

This common thing was... he had a kind of “loneliness” that he insisted. This loneliness was inside his artwork and also his insistence was in the artwork. And the way he conducted the brush over the canvas, actually, they also had common points. Although the “One-Legged Deva” series was painted around the years before he passed away. In addition, there were hints building up to it.

 

In fact, the image of One-Legged Deva’s foot appeared in his sketch painting “loneliness” when he was quite young. One foot is standing on the land, this simple image. It is equal to the prototype of his life, which let us feel that he was a very pure person, quite simple in dressing, eating, and living. He concentrated himself into creating artworks, so his life requirements were very basic and simple. For example, I always saw him riding a broken motorcycle and wearing a very old jacket. I said, “Your clothes are so old.” “Don't you have any other clothes?” That is to say, his personal life was really simple. A very simple spiritual performance which was expressed onto his One-Legged Deva.

 

So I would say that his basic creative spirit was from his young to middle-age. All of them were running through. No matter if he changed them into the “Imprint” series, “Parallel Flying Clouds” series or any other. In fact, his spirit was the same. The development of his “One-Legged Deva” series was also quite marvelous. He painted just one One-Legged Deva at the beginning. A One-Legged Deva stood there alone. Later, he walked into the mountains (with his feet) into the world of our daily lives. In the world that One-Legged Deva walked into, you would feel that mountains, water, and clouds are very natural and comfortable. A One-Legged Deva stood there. That feeling was unexpectedly not lonely. I feel that he was really comfortable and lively there because the mountains were one by one, and the clouds kept flying away.

 

Later in the “One-Legged Deva” series Lee Kuen-Lin’s mountain became very motherly. They all looked like breasts. In fact, the breast is not biased towards erotic. It was a kind of introspection about the earth, rethinking the issues of the earth. The whole earth is raising human and animals. In terms of One-Legged Deva he said that although nature has such a rich variety of properties that can nurture us. But the One-Legged Deva wants just a little bit out of all of it. So his One-Legged Deva has only one foot. “Why do I need two feet? I can jump with only one foot. Why do I need hands? I can eat if I have a mouth. I can see things with eyes.” That is, to revert the human form to a purest and simplest state. Take all of the material desires and turn them back into the most basic needs and spiritualization. Lee Kuen-Lin always had his outlook of life and thinking ways to develop his art series. All of them had had this concept.

 

I had been in contact with Lee Kuen-Lin for a long time. And the times we were together were also quite long. So many of my earliest works were seen by him. Some of his paintings hang on my wall. So of course, it’s very emotional when I look at his paintings. And... Whenever we sat down together, the first thing we would do was open a beer. Actually, I rarely drink now. But now when I look at an open beer, sometimes I think of Lee Kuen-Lin because it was wonderful to drink with him. And if I go to the beach, sometimes I would see driftwoods. Driftwoods are beautiful. Then I would think if I gave them to Lee Kuen-Lin to combine them together. It could become a very artistic artwork. So I would immediately think of him when I saw driftwoods.

 

During the time Lee Kuen-Lin was drawing, a very interesting thing happened. Once while he was painting quite concentrated and wanted to wash a brush. Suddenly, there seemed to be a bundle of straw ropes. And he looked more carefully, oh my god, it was a cobra. The cobra looked up. It looked like that it was watching Lee Kuen-Lin painting. He saw the cobra and then slowly stood up. Because he would be safe from the cobra as long as he didn’t step on it. Lee Kuen-Lin slowly took him to a small utility room. Enclosed it around with a net and let him go. Lee Kuen-Lin was always quite affectionate about nature. He often picked up seeds and also cherished small animals. So he didn’t hurt the cobra, just put it into to the small room But since that time when we walked through there, we would pay attention. Because we were afraid that the cobra would run out again. But it never appeared again. However, later on the development was like…at the last period of Lee Kuen-Lin's paintings, there were many images running out. That was to say, they just jump up and fly out, fly over. I feel that it also had something to do with the image of the cobra. So this thing gave me a very deep impression.

 

There was one thing that really shocked me. It was the thing that I would never forget for my lifetime. After Lee Kuen-Lin passed away, the family started looking for a columbarium and making the arrangements of where he would rest his spirit. They asked Lee Kuen-Lin many places by rolling the poe divination but couldn’t get an answer of agreement. This is to say that whenever they would find a place and ask via divination, the answer would not be definite. This troubled them a lot. The time was running out, but he didn’t say yes to any place they chosed. They didn't know what to do. In the last two days, his family called me. They said, “Mr. Wang, you were a very good friend with Kuen-Lin. Could you please ask him about the columbarium by rolling the poe divination? Otherwise, we are left without an answer. He is about to be incinerated, we don’t know what to do.”

 

Later, I discussed with his family. They had suggested around seven different columbarium. Seven places. They had yet to roll a Poe divination successfully at a place. They were worried that all of them would be negated. Then it would be an awful situation. They could not handle it. So they asked me to roll each placed seven times Poe divination. Then there were forty-nine-times chance. And then there was a chance of definitely succeeding. I said, “ok, ok” Then put these sequences down. And there was an idea in my heart. Next day in the early morning, I set off from Xinhua and went to buy a dozen Heineken first.

 

When I arrived, I put the Heinekens in front of Lee Kuen-Lin’s funeral hall and took incense to pray. I said, “Teacher Lee, I am here to drink Heineken with you and I want to discuss where you are going to be buried with you. About this topic, I want to tell you something. I think the most appropriate place is Mindu. Firstly, because it was very close to your Prince Temple. Second, Mindu is near Wooden mountain and extends from Wooden mountain to Xinhua. I think the environment there is very good and suitable. So I want to ask you if this place is acceptable? If you think it’s a good idea please give us a sign of agreement.”

 

So after telling him, I rolled the Poe divination. Then he agrees at the first time. It was quite ok. So I solved this problem in just one try. Everyone was surprised. I also felt quite surprised. This was the thing that I won’t be able to forget for my lifetime.

© 2 0 1 9  L e e  K u e n  L i n  a n d  L e e  L o  Y i  A l l  R i g h t s  R e s e r v e d.